ICO Blog

Illinois College of Optometry's Official Blog

Navigation Menu

Principles

Principles

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Blogs

I’ve been stepping outside of myself to look back on my first year at ICO from a different perspective. It has become something of a bi-yearly tradition for me to look back on my life and be embarrassed about how I’ve acted for the last couple of years. At this point, I expect my future self to continue being embarrassed no matter what I do.

Anyway. That’s not the point I’m trying to make.

I think I’ve done many things right at ICO, but there are also things that I could have handled with more tact or thoughtfulness. Thinking back has helped me realize that I didn’t need to do things differently; it was my attitude and perspectives that needed to adjust.

Attitude and perspective make a difference in everything you do. This is especially important when working with people. So, I’ve written down some principles. These are principles that would help all of us, especially professionals and soon-to-be-professionals.

Here they are:

  • I will not take things personally, even when it seems like I am being attacked. I will respect criticisms from others, no matter the content of their criticisms.
    This is important in a professional environment, especially as a student. It’s easy to be defensive about criticisms, but by dismissing the critiques, I am doing myself a disservice. I won’t be able to improve the weaknesses that other people see in me that I am unaware of.
  • I will be kind and I don’t expect people to like me for it. We need more kindness in our world. I’m a strong believer in being kind for the sake of being kind. It’s normal to expect others to reciprocate kindness with kindness, but that isn’t always the case – and you shouldn’t take that personally. Remember: the goal is kindness, not to boost my own ego.
  • I will always give people the benefit of the doubt, even when I am not given the same benefit. I have seen too many situations where assumptions have ruined relationships. Some would say that this point of view is too trusting. I realize that one day, someone may take advantage of my good will, but I am willing to make that trade to give honest people a chance. Call me an idealist. This principle is very similar to the second principle. There is a very thin line to walk between being trusting and having people take advantage of you, but in my experience, I have found that the vast majority of people reciprocate trust with trustworthiness.
  • I need to recognize that I’m needed in a supporting role more often than I’m needed in a starring role. This is especially true as a student. I am here to learn and cooperate with my colleagues, not to prove my intellect. This is a personal problem for me. My ego can become inflated sometimes.
  • I will admit when I am wrong. Ego and defensiveness do not make this easy. This is one of hardest things for anybody to do. It is also important to recognize that you can be completely humble and willing to admit mistakes in one area, and be completely obnoxious in another. I speak from personal experience.
  • I will learn from my mistakes. I realize that I will make many of them. This principle is important in order to become proficient in any field. Optometry is no exception.
  • I will respect my body and my health. The mind and body are connected. As a student who is constantly learning, I need to keep my mind sharp. To do that, I must keep my body strong and healthy. Time for a metaphor: anything can be used to make art, but having good tools makes it easier to make great art. Your body is the tool, optometry is your art. This isn’t completely necessary, but in a high stress environment with tests being thrown at you every other day, it’s important to stay in the best shape that you can.

These are principles that I try to follow everyday, but I do forget them – and I forget often, without something reminding me. I still struggle with them from time to time. They sound too idealistic for certain situations, but despite this, I have found that I never regret what I do when I follow them and I am always in a better situation, considering the alternatives.
I really hope that you consider adopting some or all of these principles on your own, and I hope you get as much out of them as I do.

Read More

Walking through Andersonville

Walking through Andersonville

Posted by on Jun 22, 2015 in Blogs

The past five weeks have zoomed by and I am loving the change in pace. Gone are the days of classes, homework, and tests. From morning to evening for five days a week, I’m a clinician tasting what real life could be like in one of many clinical settings.

My clinical rotation site this summer is Visionary Eye Care, a private practice with two locations – one in Andersonville and the other in the South Loop. My time at the practice is spent doing routine eye exams, contact lens fits and evaluations, lasik pre and post-ops, dry eye work ups and treatments, binocular vision management, macular degeneration evaluations, and more. My favorite thing about being a fourth year is the level of autonomy I have. In clinic, I can make my own decisions. Outside of clinic, I am free to spend my leisure time as I please. Well, until Part II and III start to creep up.

The Andersonville location, where I am stationed 4 days a week, is set amidst a bustling neighborhood of restaurants, mom-and-pop shops, galleries, bakeries, and more. In the past few weeks, exploring and getting to know more about the diverse and vivid Andersonville community has been a delicious treat.

Before the work day begins or somewhere in between, I delight in coffee trips to La Colombe. Their mochas are delicious and my weakness!

IMG_2239

I usually bring a “brown bag” lunch, but on occasion check out what the neighborhood has to offer. I lunched at Polygon Cafe, a thai restaurant and sushi bar, with a opened wall perfect for people-watching and awkwardly responding to greetings from my patients. The shrimp tempura and spicy tuna maki were yummy and my first-try of thai iced tea was delicious! There’s a lovely and often packed Swedish Bakery nearby where I’ve often disappeared into for mid-day treats. When National Donut Day rolled around, I popped in to claim one of the last two sugary fruit-filled pockets of goodness.

IMG_1076

Across the street from Visionary, I got a manicure at Nail Palette complete with an oh-so-good neck and back massage which was so perfect after a long day at work. A few steps away is Marguerite Gardens, a ethereal flower shop with a expansive collection of glass and ceramic vases.

IMG_2400

Throughout Andersonville, there are these neighborhood maps and history boards that are such clever touches. The Coffee Studio, just a few short blocks away, is another great caffeine cafe where I’ve savored delicious cold-brew iced coffee.

IMG_2237

My favorite treat this summer has been at George’s Ice Cream and Sweets. The ice cream is delicious and the waffle cone is the perfect balance between chewy and crispy.

IMG_8497

On one summery weekend (I do work on Saturdays but not on Mondays), the Andersonville Midsommarfest was in full swing. It was a treat to be front and center at the fest. During eye exams, concert music streamed in and wafts of grilled goodness touched our noses. So, it made perfect sense that during lunch break, I walked through the seemingly endless stands and indulged in a fresh and hot churro.

IMG_2560

There are just five weeks left at my summer externship. I’m looking forward to further increasing my clinical experience, improving my skills, and learning from the doctors and a staff I have been enjoying working with, all while having a great time.

Read More

Cheezborgers, Cheeps and a Coke (no Pepsi)

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Blogs

My double Cheezeborger, Cheeps and Coke

My double Cheezeborger, Cheeps and Coke

As I write my third or fourth blog about food, I’m starting to worry that everyone will think this is all I do. However, in my defense, how can you be in Chicago and not eat everything? I’m still drooling over the Spanish tapas bar I found and wrote about in my last article, Tasty Chicago. I keep telling myself that if I’m going to keep eating, I should try new places, only returning to previous places occasionally. Oh, the troubles of living in Chicago!

If you’ve ever Googled famous eats in Chicago, the lists of restaurants, food trucks, grab and gos, etc. will most likely overwhelm you. For the sports fans, you have Michael Jordan’s steak house and Mike Ditka’s restaurant. If you watch The League, head over to Gibson’s bar and restaurant. If you love Oprah Winfrey, then head to Table Fifty-two, who’s owner and chef Art Smith was Oprah’s personal chef for years.

If you are a fan of Murray, Belushi, and Aykroyd, then you should have already guessed which restaurant I am talking about: The Billy Goat Tavern, which was immortalized by their famous SNL skit. While the tavern has a few locations, locals and SNL fans will make fun of you unless you go to the original, at the lower level of Michigan Ave.

There are a few rules you should know if you decide to go there and not watch the SNL skit beforehand. First of all, do not order a single cheeseburger. As my friend found out, they will not give it to you and you will get a double cheeseburger. Get a triple if you are hungry. Next, they do not have fries, only chips, and do not think about ordering Pepsi- only Coke products.

Now about the food, the kaiser rolls are baked and delivered daily, and trust me, you can tell. The burgers are fresh and thin, which is why a single cheeseburger isn’t worth trying to get. Again, they won’t let you (unless you are a kid, or a girl on her first date). The double is 1/4lb, and the triple is “even better.” The Homerun is a double double for the extra hungry eater. Also, they let you put pickles and onions on. No lettuce. No tomatoes.

For sports fans, you can also learn about the Billy Goat Curse on the Cubs that has been going on for 69 years, 7 months and 20 days since I’ve been writing this.

No matter the reason you go to the Billy Goat tavern- if its for the burger, for the skit, or for the curse- you will definitely have a great time. You’ll leave with a full stomach and a great experience… unless you order a single cheeseburger, fries and a Pepsi.

Read More

The RGP Experience

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Blogs

In optometry school, we learn that macular degeneration is a serious sight threatening condition that affects your central vision. This condition is thought to be caused by smoking and UV light. It seems to be hereditary and is more common in those of Caucasian race. As a white female with light green eyes and a grandmother with macular degeneration, one of my main eye related concerns is UV protection and prevention of this blinding disease. We recently learned in our physical optics course that Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses provide the best UV protection of the contact lenses and are also better for the health of the cornea because they’re so oxygen permeable.   Further, they’re easier to take care of, cheaper in the long run and the vision is even crisper than regular contact lenses.  These seem too good to be true and being the curious person that I am, I just decided I have to try these.

20150517_165506

Of course I did wonder, if these are so awesome, why does everyone wear soft lenses?  After discussing with a few of the doctors in my primary care suite, I was warned that they are not the most comfortable to wear.  In order for me to be the best clinician I can be, I feel as though I need to experience everything I’m going to be prescribing and counseling my patients on. So, I mentally prepared myself and decided that I would try the RGP lenses for at least 1 month. I figured if I can’t get used to them in 1 month, then I’m not going to and I can be thankful that I don’t have one of those prescriptions where this is the only option.

Because these lenses are so uncomfortable, you have to start a wearing schedule that goes something like this: day 1, wear the lenses for 4 hours, increase by 2 hours each day, and book a follow up in 1 week. Sounds easy, right?   My wearing schedule went more like this:

Day 1, 4 hours of wear time: I just left the office and I’m checking my watch to see when I can take these out. Every time I blink, I have to wait for the lens to settle before the vision is clear. I think the right one is slightly more comfortable than the left; the left one seems to move a lot more each time I blink.

Day 2: “I have optometry lab today and I have to sit as patient, so I’ll put them in this afternoon after lab…” So, 20150517_165542that didn’t happen. I was dilated. I get enough glare from them when I’m not dilated. I can’t imagine how bad it would be if I had them in now!

Day 3, 6 hours of wear time: These lenses are making me so grumpy!! I was told my eye lids looked swollen. I can’t stop rubbing my inner canthus. They make me feel a bit off, so for the big event this afternoon, I’ll take them out and wear my glasses- I need to be on my “A” game.

Day 4, 8 hours of wear time: I wanna scratch my eyes out. I think I’ve lost more than a few eye lashes at this point. I feel like my eyes are so incredibly dry, and it makes me want to blink every second- except then I have to wait for the lens to settle again. Arrgggggghhhh!!

Day 5: I feel like I want to put eye drops in every 5 minutes or so.

Day 6: I’m just going to wear my soft lenses today.

After trying these lenses, I am very thankful that I do not have to wear these.  I think it’s safe for me to say that this was an unsuccessful experience in terms of me becoming an RGP wearer. However, I am glad that I got the chance to experience them through the educational contact lens program.

Read More

What graduation from ICO means to me

What graduation from ICO means to me

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Blogs

If you have read my story on how I got to ICO, you might be able to empathize with how much graduation means to me and my family.

It means my brother can probably start investing in himself more instead of penny-pinching to ensure that I have food on the table while I have no source of income while I am on externships.

It means that I now have the opportunity to retire my parents so that they can stop working multiple jobs 7 days a week.

CYMERA_20150520_003420[1]

My family

It means all those times the big bankers told me “you can’t/shouldn’t/won’t make it,” didn’t stop me from actually doing it anyway.

instagram1

Graduate of 2015

It means I can sign off on my own prescriptions and start to develop my own patient base that grows with me (no more asking for permission to dilate!)

It means I can pursue my dreams of continuing with mission work all over the world so I can make a difference in those that can’t afford to see.

Puebla SVOSH mission trip 2013

Puebla SVOSH mission trip 2013

It means I have a career where I am doing what I love every single day that I am working, and the world is my oyster.

profile pic

It also means that I will miss the ICO staff like Teisha Johnson, Hank, and Anthony who have been there for me and look out for me like my family away from home.

IMG_20150516_095555

Anthony was the first person to greet me on my interview day and gave me words of encouragement when I was nervous.

Hank made sure I was safe even while I was off campus. He's my family away from home.

Hank  is the head of security and he made sure I was safe even while I was off campus. He’s my family away from home.

My time at ICO allowed me to grow both as an individual and as an optometrist and I truly had the time of my life. You know it’s true when you start a hash tag #timeofmylife for it. I got to travel, build friendships, network with doctors and vendors. Each trip was an unforgettable experience.

10494747_10152488441010661_5017630834646754977_n

Optometry’s Meeting in Philadelphia 2014

Friendships were formed with people from all over the world that I would have otherwise never been able to have the pleasure to meet. Graduation is bitter-sweet, and I struggle with not being able to see my classmates like I used to in first year, but I definitely won’t be missing studying every weekend!

CYMERA_20150520_003256[1]

ICO class of 2015

I am honored to be an alumnus of ICO class of 2015, I am proud of my education that I worked hard to obtain, and am forever grateful to all my professors and preceptors who have taught me all that I know, and encouraged me throughout my career here. A special thanks to Dr. Mindy Nguyen, Dr. Dominick Maino from ICO, as well as Dr. Barry Jose and Dr. Gregg Russell from my externships who were the most influential and inspirational people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I have no doubt in my mind I learned from the best of the best doctors.

Optometry for me is a dream come true, and like any other dream, it doesn’t come easy. It’s sweat and tears and more sacrifice than you can imagine, but standing with my cap and gown on graduation day made one thing clear; it was worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you ICO for making me Dr. Jennifer Tai.

CYMERA_20150520_010704[1]

Read More